HARTFORD, Connecticut,  (ENS) – There is more to encouraging the use of hybrid-electric vehicles than simply plugging them in, said Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell today.

“We need to make sure the state’s electric infrastructure is ready for the additional demand, and we want to avoid problems that could crop up if, say, a high number of EVs are charging on a 98-degree summer day when power is at a premium for air conditioners and other devices,” the governor said.

Rell is preparing her state for a widespread switch to hybrid-electric vehicles that could happen as early as 2010. of Public Utility Control to work closely with automakers and the state’s electric utilities to encourage and accommodate the plug-in electric vehicles that General Motors and others are planning.

“EVs have enormous promise for helping us reduce our dependence on gasoline and cut the emissions of harmful pollutants,” the governor said.

To date, plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles are not in production. However, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Chinese automaker BYD Auto, California startups Fisker Automotive and Aptera Motors, and Volkswagen all have announced their intention to introduce their own production versions.

GM has announced it plans to market the Chevy Volt, an electric vehicle designed to run at least 40 miles per day on electricity, beginning in 2010.

As part of the development of the Volt, GM is working with utility companies across the country to address issues such as the timing of recharges and possible incentives or special rates for EV drivers.

“The benefits to our planet, our businesses and families, not to mention the potential cost savings from a coordinated and intelligently planned roll-out of EVs, make Connecticut’s participation in EV integration discussions imperative,” the governor said.

The integration discussions were announced last week. General Motors and 34 utilities will collaborate with the Electric Power Research Institute on research and development to facilitate integration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles into the power grid.

Today, Governor Rell directed DPUC Chairman Donald Downes to “ensure Connecticut utilities are actively involved in the discussions.”

Environmental groups are behind this alternative form of energy. Environment Connecticut said in June, “Plug-in hybrid vehicles can dramatically reduce carbon dioxide pollution from vehicles while weaning America from its dependence on oil.”

Electric vehicles are designed to be powered primarily by batteries charged through the existing electric power grid. Gasoline or other fuels serve as an auxiliary fuel if the rechargeable electric battery runs down.

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle shares the characteristics of both conventional hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles, having an internal combustion engine as well as batteries for power.

Plug-in hybrids can average nearly 100 miles per gallon using a combination of electricity and gasoline.

“In a time of soaring energy prices,” said Governor Rell, “Connecticut has an opportunity to be a national leader in reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources and in integrating available technologies in a way that will reduce emissions and may potentially lower costs to consumers.”